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Benson Plateau Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Ruckel Creek on the Benson Plateau (bobcat)
Benson Way crossing of Ruckel Creek (bobcat)
Small tarn meadow in the middle of the plateau (bobcat)
  • Start point: Herman Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Benson Plateau
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Dogbone (Out to a loop and back)
  • Distance: 16.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 4080 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: May-Oct
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

NOTICE: Most trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge are closed until further notice because of damage from the Eagle Creek Fire. The closure involves ALL trails between Rooster Rock State Park and Hood River. It is anticipated that most of these trails may not reopen until Spring or Summer 2018. Please check the list of Columbia Gorge trail closures before you plan for a hike.

The Benson Plateau is an interesting flat-topped ridge south of the Columbia River Gorge. This hike explores the area.

From the Herman Creek Trailhead climb on the Herman Creek Trail through a powerline clearing to a junction with the Herman Creek Bridge Trail. Turn right and follow the "Bridge" Trail downhill less than half of a mile to the Herman Creek Bridge. From here, you'll climb almost 500 feet to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. (You could also start this hike at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead, adding an extra 3 miles to the round-trip hike.)

Once on the Crest Trail, the climb continues. In the next 2.7 miles, you'll climb from 960 feet to about 3700 feet in elevation. At the 2000 feet level, you'll enter the Hatfield Wilderness Area. Interestingly, the wilderness boundary in this area is defined to be at the 2000 foot line. Close to the top you'll pass a helispot, where helicopters can/could land for emergency rescues. Nearby is a short side trail to Teakettle Spring.

Soon after this, the trail flattens out, finally on the summit of Benson Plateau. The plateau is a bit higher on the south end, but compared to what you've been tackling, any additional climbing is a cake walk. Continue south another mile and a half passed a junction with the Benson Way Trail to a junction with the Benson Ruckel Trail #405A.

Turn right and follow the Benson Ruckel Trail almost a mile to the Ruckel Creek-Benson Ruckel Trail Junction. The turn left and follow Ruckel Creek Trail about a half mile across the upper reaches of Ruckel Creek to a junction with the Benson Spur Trail. From here, you'll head south on the Benson Spur Trail to a junction with the Benson Way Trail.

When you turn right here, you'll be heading back north on the Benson Way Trail. This trail skirts the west side of the plateau offering occasional glimpses of Larch Mountain and other point to the west. It's 2.3 miles back to the Crest Trail. You'll cross the Ruckel Creek Trail again at Hunter's Camp. Once you arrive at the Crest Trail, it's an easy, if knee-killing trip back the way you came down to your car.

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Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.